The report cited remarks by Lu Jianjian, a professor at Shanghai’s East China Normal University and a member of the government’s main national policy advisory body.
The effects of pollution have been seen in the reduction of the number of animal species living in the river from 126 in the mid-1980s, to just 52 as of 2002, Lu was cited as saying.
"Many officials think the pollution is nothing for the Yangtze, which has a large water flow and a certain capability of self-cleaning, but the pollution is actually very serious," Yuan Aiguo, a professor with the China University of Geosciences based in the Yangtze port of Wuhan, was quoted as saying.
Pollution has forced cities that use the Yangtze for some or all of their drinking water to move plants further upstream to find usable supplies. The commercial hub of Shanghai, with a population of about 20 million, is among those cities.
Without measures to reduce pollution, up to 70 percent of Yangtze water could be classed as unusable within five years, Xinhua quoted Yuan as saying.
Another expert, Liu Guangzhao, said the level of pollution would kill off plant species, "and the river would become a dead river," Xinhua said.
Agricultural runoff and industrial waste make up the bulk of the pollution, followed by domestic sewage and oil residue and sewage from the 210,000 ships that ply the river each year, it said. (AP)
May 30, 2006